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The largest crypto exchange in Japan, Bitflyer, has announced a major organizational overhaul. A new representative director has been appointed to oversee the exchange’s day-to-day operations. Meanwhile, hacked crypto exchange Zaif has stopped accepting new customers as regulators ramp up oversight of exchange operators.
Zaif Halts New Memberships
Osaka-based crypto exchange Zaif, one of the 16 regulated crypto exchanges in Japan, has suspended signing up new members. “We decided to temporarily stop accepting new membership registration at 21 o’clock on September 28,” Zaif’s operator, Tech Bureau, announced Friday. The company clarified, “Customers who are waiting for registration, such as being already in the process of identity verification by applying for membership registration, will register as usual as a member,” adding:
We are responsible for recovering the damage to all existing customers who were victimized by the current virtual currency outflow, but to do so, [we need] to concentrate our internal resources.
Zaif was hacked on Sept. 14 but the breach was not discovered until Sept. 17. The total damage is estimated to be about 7 billion yen (~$ 62 million). Tech Bureau claims that approximately 5,966 BTC, 42,327 BCH, and 6,236,810 MONA were stolen. The country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) has issued the company a third business improvement order.
Bitflyer announced Monday, Oct. 1, a change in the company’s organizational structure. “Today marks the establishment of the holdings company, Bitflyer Holdings Inc.,” the firm announced. Bitflyer Inc., which operates Japan’s largest crypto exchange, “has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bitflyer Holdings Inc. by means of a stock transfer.” In a joint statement, Bitflyer Inc. and Bitflyer Holdings Inc. clarified, “Everyone will be able to use our services and trade just as they always have,” noting:
The purpose for creating a holdings company is to separate administrative and operational functions, to clarify the duties and responsibilities of each function, to strengthen corporate governance, and to create a more thorough compliance structure.
On June 22, Bitflyer Inc. halted new account registrations after it was issued a business improvement order by the FSA. “In order to maximize our efforts towards building a suitable service and improving on the issues identified, we have voluntarily and temporarily suspended the onboarding of new customers,” the exchange explains on its website.
With the establishment of the holdings company, Yuzo Kano has stepped down as the representative director of Bitflyer Inc. to become the CEO of Bitflyer Holdings Inc. Nobuyoshi Suzuki from Mitsui Bank Ltd has been appointed the new representative director of Bitflyer Inc.
On Sunday, Sept. 30, Jiji Press reported that the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (Jvcea) “will set a ceiling on the amount of digital currencies managed online,” citing unnamed sources. Members of the association are the 16 regulated crypto exchanges, including Zaif and Bitflyer. The group has filed for accreditation with the FSA to become an organization that can legally enforce self-regulation on its members. The news outlet added that according to the sources:
The ceiling is likely to be around 10 to 20 percent of customer deposits.
The group was established in response to the hack of Coincheck in January and has been working on implementing self-regulation. With the hack of Zaif, the group “plans to tighten self-regulatory measures it follows on the management of customer assets,” the publication described. The news outlet further detailed that the group “will shortly revise the self-imposed rules, drawn up in July, and implement them once it is certified by the Financial Services Agency.”
FSA’s Priority Report
The FSA published a report entitled Financial Services Policy: Assessments and Strategic Priorities 2018 on Wednesday, Sept. 26.
The agency revealed that based on data of 14 regulated crypto exchanges and three deemed providers obtained from the Jvcea, 81.6 percent of all crypto transactions going through these exchanges are “margin or future trading.” Meanwhile, 18.4 percent are spot trading. Deemed providers are exchanges that have been allowed to operate in Japan while their applications are still being reviewed by the agency. Japan now has a total of three deemed providers: Coincheck, Lastroots, and Everybody’s Bitcoin.
In its report, the FSA reveals that it will “Tighten registration screenings and monitoring, taking account of issues found in inspections,” “Review certification applications prepared by self-regulatory organizations and encourage them to achieve the early establishment of the self-regulating function,” and “Lead the discussion for global cooperation to form regulations as the chair of the G20 in 2019.”
What do you think of the developments in Japan? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Japan’s FSA, Zaif, and Bitflyer.
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A Pakistani court suspended the prison sentences of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on Wednesday and set them free on bail pending their appeal hearings.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has suspended the trading of two XBT Provider products: Bitcoin Tracker One and Ether Tracker One. The agency attributes “a lack of current, consistent and accurate information” which leads to “confusion amongst market participants” as the reason.
SEC Suspends Trading of XBT Provider Instruments
On Sunday, September 9, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued an “Order of Suspension of Trading” for two exchange-traded products issued by XBT Provider AB (publ), a Swedish company headquartered in Stockholm.
The Commission states that “there is a lack of current, consistent and accurate information” concerning Bitcoin Tracker One (CXBTF) and Ether Tracker One (CETHF), “resulting in confusion amongst market participants regarding these financial instruments.” The products track the prices of their respective cryptocurrency.
Noting that both instruments are listed and traded on the Nasdaq/OMX in Stockholm and have recently been quoted on OTC Link operated by OTC Markets Group Inc., the SEC added:
The Commission is of the opinion that the public interest and the protection of investors require a suspension of trading in the securities of the above quoted company.
Pursuant to Section 12(k) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, trading in the two securities “is suspended for the period from 5:30 p.m. EDT on September 9, 2018, through 11:59 p.m. EDT on September 20, 2018,” the agency detailed.
ETF, ETN, or Non-Equity Linked Certificate?
The SEC proceeded to explain the inconsistencies of how the two products are categorized, elaborating:
The broker-dealer application materials submitted to enable the offer and sale of these financial products in the United States, as well as certain trading websites, characterize them as ‘Exchange Traded Funds (ETF)’.
The agency defines ETFs as registered investment companies that offer investors a way to pool their money in a fund that invests in stocks, bonds, or other assets. In return, investors receive an interest in the fund.
However, the Commission pointed out that “Other public sources characterize the instruments as ‘Exchange Traded Notes (ETN)’.” Unlike ETFs, these notes are unsecured debt obligations of financial institutions that trade on a securities exchange. “ETN payment terms are linked to the performance of a reference index or benchmark, representing the ETN’s investment objective,” the agency describes.
According to the SEC:
ETNs are often confused with exchange-traded funds (ETFs). ETNs and ETFs are both traded on a securities exchange and can be bought and sold throughout the day, but there are important differences.
To complicate the matter further, the Commission noted that “the issuer characterizes them in its offering materials as ‘non-equity linked certificates’,” which XBT Provider says “are not principal protected” and “do not bear interest.”
In addition to Bitcoin Tracker One and Ether Tracker One, the company has two more products: Bitcoin Tracker Euro and Ether Tracker Euro.
What do you think of the SEC suspending trading of XBT Provider instruments? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and XBT Provider.
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Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has been punished, but not by the firing he could have faced for failing to report domestic violence allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith. Meyer has been suspended without pay for the first three games of the season and has been banned from…
Bithumb has suspended issuing new virtual accounts to crypto traders starting on August 1 after failing to renew the contract with its bank. These accounts are part of the real-name system enforced by the Korean government earlier this year. Only three exchanges in the country are now reportedly able to open new virtual accounts for their customers.
Bithumb Halts Issuing New Virtual Accounts
Crypto exchange Bithumb has announced the suspension of new virtual account issuance starting on August 1. With a 24-hour trading volume of $ 245,786,110 at the time of this writing, Bithumb currently ranks as South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, according to Coinmarketcap.
Business Korea elaborated:
Bithumb, one of South Korea’s four biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, will stop issuing new virtual accounts from August as it has failed to renew a contract with NH Nonghyup Bank.
However, the news outlet noted that “customers who already have virtual accounts can use them for deposit and withdrawal services.” For Bithumb customers, virtual accounts are needed to deposit or withdraw Korean won.
According to Etoday, the bank has given Bithumb a one-month grace period. During this time, it will continue to provide deposit and withdrawal services for existing accounts. However, the publication noted that “it will become difficult to use existing virtual accounts if the contract renewal is finally terminated.”
Using the Real-Name System
Real-name virtual accounts are part of the system aimed at preventing money laundering and increasing transparency, implemented by the Korean government at the end of January. The regulators want all crypto trading accounts to be real-name ones but are met with a number of challenges.
The biggest problem is that banks only offer this service to four of the country’s largest crypto exchanges. The rest of the exchanges still use corporate accounts which the regulators are trying to phase out citing that they are more prone to money laundering.
The four exchanges receiving real-name services were Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, and Korbit. Each had been increasing its efforts to comply with the anti-money laundering (AML) regulation. In May, Bithumb said it will lower withdrawal limits for traders not using the real-name system. “We have decided to gradually reduce the withdrawal amounts in the Korean won because it is raising concerns that bank accounts for unconverted withdrawals may become a target of various financial crimes,” an official of the exchange said at the time.
Bank Refuses to Renew Bithumb’s Contract
When the real-name system was first introduced, “the government forced cryptocurrency exchanges to renew the service contract with banks every six months in a bid to encourage them to make continuous efforts to prevent money laundering,” Business Korea detailed.
The first renewal was the end of July. Upbit, Coinone, and Korbit were able to renew their contracts with their banks. However, Bithumb’s request for renewal with NH Nonghyup Bank was denied. The news outlet quoted an official of the bank describing:
We have decided not to renew the contract because Bithumb still has problems in protecting consumers and information and preventing money laundering.
“The bank thinks that Bithumb’s data processing systems have flaws in light of the recent hacking incident, which caused the exchange a loss of 18.9 billion won (US$ 16.88 million),” the publication added. Previously, Bithumb also had a contract with Shinhan Bank for the real-name service but it was terminated due to increased risks from multiple security breaches, Shinhan previously explained.
An official from Bithumb was quoted by the news outlet, “we have a consensus with Nonghyup Bank on renewal of the contract. We are planning to iron out our different views on some legal expressions and start issuing virtual accounts soon.”
What do you think of Bithumb not being able to open new virtual accounts? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Nonghyup Bank, Joongang Daily, and Bithumb.
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“Deposits/Withdrawals Notice,” came the post title from popular Indian cryptocurrency exchange Unocoin this week. “As per orders from RBI,” the exchange explained, “bank INR withdrawals and INR Deposits have temporarily been disabled. Once an alternative method of funding is identified and deployed, we will resume the deposit and withdrawal services.”
India Crypto Exchange Unocoin Suspends Withdrawals and Deposits to Comply with Central Bank Orders
Ahead of an anticipated regulatory move and potential clarification by the government of India on the subject of cryptocurrencies, popular exchange Unocoin suspended fiat deposits and withdrawals, noting “Cryptoasset(coin) deposits and withdrawals are ON @ Unocoin & Unodax; Using INR Balance Buy and Sell of BTC/ETH is ON @ Unocoin; Crypto-rupee and crypto-crypto pair trading are ON @ Unodax.”
RBI is the Reserve Bank of India, the country’s central bank; INR is the international short expression for the India rupee (₹), its fiat currency. Traditional banks were placed under strict orders this spring by the RBI to stop dealing in cryptocurrencies altogether.
Exchanges filed suit, a petition, against the RBI’s policy, making its way eventually to the Supreme Court of India. Just days ago, the Court upheld the central bank’s decision, suggesting a definitive ruling on the issue will come this fall.
As a measure to mitigate against drawing further ire from officials, exchanges such as Unocoin have tried to find workarounds. Crypto trades for crypto is one step, and it does appear peer-to-peer arrangements will only see benefit from the crackdown.
Just recently, the company’s Unodax revealed 17 crypto-only trading pairs, including bases made from bitcoin core (BTC), ethereum, and XRP. BTC is matched, for example, with BCH/BTC, ETH/BTC, LTC/BTC, XRP/BTC, BTG/BTC, GNT/BTC, CVC/BTC, ZRX/BTC, and OMG/BTC.
As we recently reported, “an unnamed senior official from the Ministry of Finance” insisted they’ve already drafted regulatory language and “consultation is on with all the stakeholders…before coming up with the final paper. We expect it to be ready by September. ‘The ministry has constituted an interdisciplinary committee under the chairmanship of Special Secretary (Economic Affairs) to examine the regulatory framework regarding virtual currency,’ [a regional publication] detailed. ‘SEBI and RBI have expressed some reservations regarding clauses in the initial draft.’”
What do you think ultimately the government of India will decide? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images via Pixabay, Twitter.
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Facebook said Friday it has suspended Boston-based analytics firm Crimson Hexagon while it investigates how it collects and shares Facebook and Instagram’s user data.
Facebook has been facing increased scrutiny over how third-party firms use its data since news broke in March that data firm Cambridge…
South Korea has suspended its summertime civil defense drills aimed at preparing against a North Korean attack to keep alive a positive atmosphere for nuclear diplomacy with the North. Seoul’s decision on Tuesday to “temporarily suspend” the nationwide civilian drills had been anticipated since the United States and South Korea…
Crypto exchange Huobi notified its Japanese customers via e-mail on Wednesday that it will be closing accounts of users who are residents of Japan. According to Huobi, their decision came up as a result of compliance issues with the Japanese law.
No Japanese Traders on Huobi
Huobi Pro reportedly plans to remove the Japanese page from its website as of July 2, and stop providing trading services to Japanese residents. Although the announcement is not yet visible on the official company homepage, further details are expected to appear in the coming hours, a Telegram administrator for Huobi said.
On its disclaimer page, Huobi states that the company deals with electronic assets through the internet and telecommunication network, complying with the laws of each country when conducting business activities. Huobi Global Limited is a company registered and established in the Republic of Seychelles, under its relevant laws.
Huobi also notes that it is not registered as a virtual currency exchange business under the “funds settlement law of Japan.” Therefore, it does not conduct any virtual currency exchange business in the country. The company finally points out that it respects the Japanese law and has not solicited any persons who reside in Japan (individuals or corporations).
Over the past few months, the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) kept imposing new sanctions on cryptocurrency exchanges, towards which some Japanese traders have expressed their frustration. Nevertheless, they also believe that government rules and crypto regulations will benefit the local crypto industry in the long run.
“It’s really problematic that the FSA doesn’t give us the heads-up before announcing business improvement orders for instance that lead to a temporary halt of business [of the company which was issued the business improvement order]. It messes up everything, suddenly,” said Mas Hihara, a Japanese blockchain technologist, ICO adviser and entrepreneur.
In China, despite authorities officially banning virtual currencies from trading in renminbi (CNY), it is rumored in the industry that the Chinese government is still showing interest in the virtual currency. According to some reports, there is a chance that Beijing would actually invalidate the ban on virtual currency trading.
What do you think of Huobi halting trading services for Japanese residents? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images via Shutterstock.
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This week the Twitter handle @Bitmaintech was locked down because Twitter administrators claimed the account belongs to a 4-year-old. The Twitter handle’s owner and Bitmain’s head of marketing have complained to the social media company’s support team and Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey. The account lockdown marks the second high profile bitcoin-related account that’s been banned from Twitter in just a few months.
The Official Bitmain Tech Twitter Account Has Been Suspended
On June 14 Bitmain Tech’s head of marketing Nishant Sharma tweeted to his followers that the company’s official Twitter account @Bitmaintech had been banned from Twitter. At the moment the Twitter account is completely inaccessible to the public and the Beijing-based company’s active ad campaigns have been paused.
Bitmain’s account accumulated thousands of Twitter followers over the past four years and now the account is unable to post or utilize the social media platform in any manner until the case is resolved.
“The @Bitmaintech account is temporarily inaccessible because apparently, Twitter thinks that the people behind the account are as old as Bitmain i.e. 4 years old,” says Sharma.
It should be back soon (and long before Bitmain turns 13). @Jack help please. Case# 85911059
The Recent @Bitcoin Account Suspension
The account removal comes at an awkward time for the Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, who has been asked to address multiple issues tied to the social media platform. For instance, just recently the @Bitcoin account was banned and the topic was very controversial. The account with over 750,000 followers was initially suspended and then the account was restored with a much lower follower count than it had prior to the ban. Some people accused Dorsey of being biased and showing a conflict of interest towards supporters of the Lightning Network (LN) by allowing the banning of the @Bitcoin account. The reason for this speculation is due to Dorsey’s recent investment into the LN project.
Legitimate Accounts Banned, but ETH Bot Impersonation Thrives
Twitter users within the cryptocurrency industry are also dealing with the vast amounts of scamming ETH bots that have cloned nearly every well-known person in the crypto-community. The ETH bots have managed to scam millions worth of ether because Twitter will not remove the fraudulent accounts impersonating digital currency luminaries. So essentially people are pretty frustrated that Twitter has managed to ban and censor legitimate users like @Bitcoin and @Bitmaintech, while allowing fraudulent scammers to run amuck all over the platform.
The case of Bitmain losing it’s official account, because Twitter admins believe it belongs to a four-year-old, seems absurd, but Twitter has been a whacky place lately, and the company hasn’t been very responsive. The issues with Twitter also follows the recent accusations and admissions stemming from other social media platform CEOs abusing their powers. Back in 2016, the Reddit CEO Steve Huffman admitted to editing comments on the pro-Donald Trump subreddit, r/the_donald. This year Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has been scrutinized for selling user data to Cambridge Analytica. And now Twitter users are complaining about banned accounts and censorship and many of them are pointing their fingers at Jack.
What do you think about Bitmain’s Twitter account getting banned because admins believe the account belongs to a four-year-old child? Do you think Jack Dorsey and Twitter have a lot of explaining to do? Let us know your thoughts on this subject in the comment section below.
Images via Pixabay, Bitmaintech, the Twitter logo, @bitcoin, @bitmaintech, @laurashin
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